Blessing for Wilderness

Blessing for Wilderness (c) Gail Doktor

This blessing grows
In the thicket of thorny cane
Around which you bend and step
Caught on its prickers
So the scratch hurts

The berry sweetness
Ripe and red beneath the serrated green leaf
Bursts brighter on your tongue
Rolls throbbing through your hesitant fingers
Breaks on the ground
Smacks in the mouth
Hard-won among tall grass, lush fern, fallen birch, rotting logs, and working bees,

The wild richness flourishes
In the trampled bowl
You guess was as recently as a few hours ago
A deer’s breakfast, a bear’s luncheon,
Flattened like a nest
Trampled down among arching branches

Here is the heart
Of pain and succulence
You find along the narrow animal trail
You mistook for a human path
Overwhelmed by the scratchy maps
It leaves on your exposed skin as you pass through

As you suck on the just-turned crimson  plunder
In the wake of those first missteps
Off known routes and maps
Coming to a place that is
For just now
Yours alone

You linger
Gather up, gather in
Until you cannot bear to feast anymore
Unless you return with someone else
Offering unexpected bounty

Yet who will follow you
Past all markers into the unknown
For a handful of summer sweetness
And a temporary set of scars
And a blessing stained
Across empty, cupped palms?

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